festivals we celebrate and honor
Honoring and celebrating festivals is an important element of educating a child. The Waldorf School of Philadelphia celebrates and honors an array of multi-cultural traditions through a rich festival life.
Festivals help us to celebrate together and to better understand one another - whether through the sharing of stories, songs, or food. The festival life of the Waldorf School of Philadelphia includes many activities linked to the seasons, and our festivals are expressed with beauty and reverence.
The Rose Ceremony heralds the beginning of another school year. In common with fellow Waldorf schools across the globe, The Waldorf School of Philadelphia honors the first grade students on their first day of entering the grade school with the Rose Ceremony.
First graders are presented with a single red rose by an eighth grade student. The Rose Ceremony is a milestone for both grades. The first graders are about to gain a new sense of self, the eighth graders are on the cusp of entering young adulthood.
The Rose Ceremony marks the beginning of a year-long journey for the first and eighth graders. Throughout the year they will work together, the eighth graders acting as shepherd and guide for the first graders through festivals, celebrations, and teaching moments such as learning how to knit.
the festival of michaelmas
This annual Fall festival is celebrated with a pageant, songs, games of courage and strength, and old fashioned activities. We celebrate Michaelmas to find hope and honor the strength of human will, courage and initiative.
In the traditions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, the archangel Michael, or Mikail, is a symbolic leader of the force of good over evil and courage over cowardice. The celebration of Michaelmas, which is rooted in harvest festival traditions from the Middle Ages, teaches the importance of overcoming fear and darkness and strengthening resolve for winter.
While we are not as connected to the cycle of nature as we once were, each of us, and each student, must face their own difficulties and dark times in life, both internal and external. Therefore, we celebrate Michaelmas with our students through verse, songs, and dramatizations of the legend of Saint Michael slaying the dragon.
In a play students enact, a destructive dragon is tamed by St. Michael and the people of the town suffering under the dragon’s fiery, uncontrollable wrath. It is a story that parallels our own human challenges and it speaks to children in a deeply symbolic way — feeding their innate need for truth and justice and empowering them to find the courage to take on and defeat their personal dragons.
the lantern walk
It takes an act of courage to step out into the darkness on a November night. Faith of heart is needed to hold all of what life and nature gave us during the warm relaxed summer months in our soul like a small burning flame as we head deeper into the autumn. This is the symbolism of the Lantern Walk- each of our families setting out into the darkness to walk with our little lights while the wind sighs and the leaves rustle underfoot. Then, as the path turns we see that each little light forms part of a river of light that weaves through the night- joining together and helping us along. We find that once we have stepped out into the night we find our community in a different spirit from the rush of everyday events as a mood of reverence, awe, and wonder surrounds us.
dia de los muertos
Tradition says that the souls of the dead return to visit their families on this day. Dia de los muertos offers a time to remember loved ones who have died. On this day, our grades school comes together for a special service that is dedicated to those who we remember.
the garden of light
At this time of year, we seek to renew both inner and outer lights of life. Early Childhood children and first and second grade students walk in darkness through a beautiful spiral pathway of evergreens interspersed with crystals and toys. Each child receives an apple with a candle in it. The children light their candles and set them along the path, creating a shining spiral of light.
The holiday fair is our annual signature event in which our whole community comes together to create an enriching holiday experience that year after year lives in our hearts and memories as a welcoming to the holiday season. Our annual holiday fair is a festival and an important fundraising event that supports our school's operating expenses and also provides an opportunity to share the beauty of our campus with our wider community.
Our whole community comes together to prepare for this event which includes two-hours of service from each parent in our school. The holiday fair includes delicious wholesome food, children’s activities and crafts, and over 60 juried artisans and makers offering an array of beautiful homemade and natural material crafts and toys.
A spring celebration of rejuvenating forces and beauty of nature and life in general. Our May fair festival brings the whole school community together. Families enjoy dancing around the Maypole, singing, playing games, and making flower crowns. We celebrate our rich multi-cultural community life by organizing an international pot-luck, music, and dancing.
A signature event, Coffee House is organized and hosted three times a year by the students of the eighth grade. The Coffee House provides a venue where students, parents and family friends can provide entertainment through music, verse, movement or story. They are lively and fun events often held seasonally on a Friday evening and open to students and their families. The Coffee House serves as an important fundraiser for 8th-grade class trip.